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Massive city clean-up on

Massive city clean-up on

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A colossal effort to clean up Kingstown has begun, with Government considering selling city property, including the Central Market, to help to finance the exercise.

Minister of Transport and Works Julian Francis spoke with SEARCHLIGHT last Friday and said the work will only be successful {{more}}if all the stakeholders that ply their trade in the capital city work together.

On Thursday last week, at the Methodist Church Hall in Kingstown, Francis held a meeting with approximately 60 business people, during which he discussed the clean-up effort and showed “disturbing” photos of areas of the city that are in dire need of cleaning.

So far, the minister’s call on the business community to assist with the clean-up process has seen about 15 persons agreeing to pitch in, volunteering to be on a working committee to get the job done.

“I haven’t gotten to point of contributions, but it could be in coin or in kind; the contributing of ideas, the buying of a property owned by the Government,” said Francis who revealed that an area on Bay Street between ACE and PH Veira, which is owned by the Government and a Kingstown Board storage area in Paul’s Avenue are up for sale.

He said that the Government is also entertaining the idea of selling the Central Market to a private investor for between EC$30 to EC$35 million, money that can be used to build a new market somewhere else, preferably on the waterfront market.

“The private sector can use that space as a mall. It was not designed for the things we intended and I think a private entity can manage it better,” said Francis, who revealed that they are also looking at a space in the building on Bay Street that has recently been vacated by the Customs Department. He said that space can be used for vendors.

“We are getting there with the cleaning piece by piece and we intend to do it in the first half of the term. I am hoping that buildings can be painted up and businesses take more care when putting their garbage outside on evenings,” stressed Francis, who is encouraged by the response so far.

At last Thursday’s meeting, he showed photographs of stagnant, smelly water in gutters; large numbers of Styrofoam containers, discarded pallet board, rotting wooden tables, abandoned white goods and large piles of dirt that when removed, revealed all manner of vermin, including many cockroaches and in some instances rats.

What was also troubling is that many of the photographs were taken in and around places where food is sold and where large businesses are located. At least one photograph showed rats in a location where food had been offered for sale just a few hours before and would most likely be placed the day after.

Much unsightly material in key areas of Kingstown was shown and Francis noted that up to last Friday, the clean-up effort netted some 150 white goods (old fridges and freezers), among other things, while a check has revealed that there are 192 four wheeled carts, some of which have been chained up in certain areas and have not been moved since Carnival celebrations last June/July.

Francis said that since these items have been removed, nobody has complained about losing them and those that remain continue to create a perfect home for vermin.

“We want the owners to move some of these items, or we can store them for them, but they may have to pay a finder’s fee,” said Francis, stressing that he is calling on business owners and operators to come on board with his clean-up efforts, as he tries to give the nation’s capital a much needed facelift.

Francis told SEARCHLIGHT that he is once again taking the responsibility to clean up Kingstown and called on business persons to contribute to the effort either in kind or cash.

The Minister, who will soon meet with vendors to discuss the clean-up issue, said that he is taking on the job to get the capital cleaned “piece by piece”. He noted that at the moment, he is trying to raise the financial resources to get the job done, as the resources that are available through the Kingstown Board, the Roads, Bridges and General Services Authority (BRAGSA), the Central Water and Sewage Authority (CWSA), the Solid Waste Department, the Public Health Department and the Fire Department of the Police Force are not enough to get the job done.

He said that in the past, he has tried to clean up Kingstown ,but “never got anywhere.” He, however, intends to get the job done in stages this time around.

“I will raise the revenue one way or the other; there are moneys in the Budget to assist with cleaning up the city, close to one million dollars that will be released over a period of time, but I intend to sell at least one of Town Board’s properties and raise some money for the effort,” said Francis.

He disclosed that his main focus is the bus terminal/Little Tokyo area, which is extremely dirty and which could take up to EC$2 million to fix buildings and facilities there.

“I am hoping that by cleaning and setting an example, that others will maintain the cleanliness including the businesses, because all the mess in Kingstown is not only caused by the vendors,” said Francis, who stated that restaurants, bars and supermarkets contribute to the plastic bags and bottles in the city.

He said that while there has been a significant reduction of plastic bottles since some businesses have been buying them back for recycling, there are still many plastic bottles in the drains and rivers in the city.

“The photos scared them when they saw the garbage,” added Francis, who said that garbage is not the only issue, as a number of business people expressed concerns about the noise generated by vendors who sell music.

He said that a number of persons are calling for the covering of drains, but covered drains in Kingstown are problematic, as they are difficult to clean and at times are blocked by debris.

Francis said that part of the clean-up effort includes looking for alternative locations to take some of the vendors off the streets, while his plans include designating vending space in Kingstown where certain types of things should be sold.

That process is not yet ready and he said he will soon meet with vendors to discuss the way forward.

“I want to have a plan as what to do with vendors before I meet with them,” stressed Francis whose efforts to clean Kingstown continued last Sunday.

He said that most of the cleaning will take place on Sundays when businesses are closed and Kingstown has minimal foot traffic. (LC)

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